Our garden: blue hills, yellow flowers

The landscape in the distance can provide one of the colors in a planting bed combination.

That’s come home to me this week as I’ve noticed how great the yellow daylilies in front of our terrace look against our view of the blue Kigali hills and sky.

Classic blue and yellow are working really well in this open, bright area.  (The columns of the terrace are pale yellow too.)

Below are yellow abutilon and yellow foliage in the same area. I need to bring some cream into the mix.

As the garden comes back from our  all the changes we made this summer, I’m starting to think more comprehensively about structure/color combinations in the planting beds. In June, as my two temporary helpers were fast digging up swathes of shrubs and flowers, there wasn’t a lot of time to get too prissy about perennial placement — I knew where I wanted the shrubs and grass, my main concerns for Phase One.

Quickly, I tried to direct the placement of the other plants into something like the ever-advised drifts, but as things fill in, I’m not getting the overall “clarity” (the word that most comes to my mind) that I want. So I need to get the shovel back out. (But these daylilies are good.)

I’m thinking about this observation on the relationship between plant color and form by Piet Oudolf:

Different shapes + different colours
There is a danger that there will be too much contrast. The eye may be overstimulated, and there may be no common ground.

He goes on, however, to say that “this is only a suggestion to be cautious. . . as even outrageous contrasts may work!”

He indicates that easier approaches may be:

  • Related shapes + related colours
  • Different shapes + related colours [Think Nori and Sandra Pope — I am.]
  • Related shapes + different colours

(from Designing with Plants.)

In September, we visited Chicago, and I spent some time in the Oudolf-designed* Lurie Garden.  In the large section in the photo below, fading shades of purple predominated.

Seed heads in dark brown, below, provided contrast.

OK, that works.

Above, in a yellow section of the garden, an ornamental grass is a transparent curtain across the city buildings.

*with Gustafson, Guthrie, Nichol, Ltd., and Robert Israel.

8 thoughts on “Our garden: blue hills, yellow flowers

  1. Oh how I wish you were home to do something about our front area. I think I’m going to clean it out totally and wait for your next visit!:)
    OH….and happy belated birthday to you! Hope you did something fun…or at least ate something really, really good! xo

  2. Those daylilies are really pretty, but what do you do after they bloom? I’ve been trying to develop an area along a path with yellow daylilies, but I find the plants so unattractive after blooming that I want something else planted with them to hide the post-bloom mess. I haven’t found that yet, not for the difficult, dry path side.

    1. Our daylilies bloom pretty much all the time here. We have 3 un-named/unknown varieties — two yellows and one orange. They’re not ‘Stella d’Oro,’ so it must be the constant light (12 hours sun/12 hours dark, because we’re on the equator) and temperature here (and water, since we do use the sprinkler during the dry season).

      My favorite daylilies are the least hybridized — the ones with smaller flowers and more stem. Two D.C. houses ago, I had a wonderful really tall, scented, yellow one — which I feel like was called ‘lemon queen’ or something like it. But now I can’t find it.

      One of our “Art in Embassies” quilts is of tigerlilies. It hangs in the dining room, and I have planted the orange daylilies where you can see them from there. But I’m still waiting for the area to fill in and start blooming steadily.

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